Campaign: Admiral alerts media and investors to listing - Financial PR

Campaign: London Stock Exchange listing

Client: Admiral Group

PR team: Financial Dynamics/in-house

Timescale: April 2004-January 2005

Budget: £100,000

In April 2004, against a background of an uncertain IPO market, car insurer Admiral Group made plans to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Financial Dynamics was drafted in to promote Admiral as one of the UK's most profitable insurers to institutional investors, City analysts and journalists.

Objectives

To build the profile of Admiral as a fast-growing financial services provider with a record of commercial success across its four brands, which include elephant.co.uk and Diamond. To highlight the low-risk nature of Admiral's business model, whereby 75 per cent of the insurer's underwriting is passed on to reinsurers. To support the announced 245p to 300p pricing range of the issue and ensure a successful post-listing era on the LSE.

Strategy and Plan

The communications programme had to be sensitive to market conditions.

So, following the announcement of Admiral's intentions to float the company, the aim was to keep investor and media speculation about the IPO to a minimum.

Once the firm and its advisers felt confident that the offering would proceed and the timings were confirmed, a full PR programme was rolled out to create maximum impact within a short time frame.

Activities covered an investor roadshow, which began on 8 September with the announcement of the price range, and a PR splash on pricing day, 23 September.

As Admiral is based in Cardiff and Swansea, the significant benefits - including potential cash windfalls - of the float for Admiral employees was sold in to Welsh national and regional newspapers, providing a local human-interest angle.

But in the run-up to investor marketing, the market sentiment for IPOs deteriorated. So the team decided to review its PR tactics and bring forward the announcement of Admiral's interim results in an attempt to emphasise the strengths of the insurer's business.

Measurement and Evaluation

Over five months, the campaign generated 125 articles in the business press, including profile pieces and commentary in The Sunday Times and Financial Times and on Dow Jones Newswires.

On pricing day, five interviews with chief executive Henry Engelhardt were run by broadcasters, including the BBC, Sky, CNBC and Bloomberg.

This was backed by a further 60 broadcast news pieces and interest from trade titles including Insurance Times and Financial News.

The staff windfall story, whereby employees were set to receive an average £39,000 payout, also drove coverage across the national and regional Welsh press, including the Western Mail and South Wales Echo.

Results

The IPO was priced at 275p per share, within the upper half of the announced price range, and the offer was six times oversubscribed. Since flotation, shares have risen to 331.5p (closing price on 12 January) - a market capitalisation of £857m.

Reuters UK financial services correspondent Carmel Crimmins says Financial Dynamics was helpful. 'On the (pricing) day, it also put across messages about Admiral's business model and the benefits of the float for staff,' she says.

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